Dortmund have come from behind to secure victories twice over the last eight days, but they assumed the unfamiliar position of frontrunners here inside five minutes.
After some neat, intricate build-up play on the edge of the Leverkusen area, Niclas Füllkrug held off Edmond Tapsoba to slot in Julian Ryerson, and the wing-back showed the composure of a seasoned striker to slide home the opener.
That was the first time Die Werkself had conceded the first goal of a game since mid-September’s draw with Bayern Munich, and Xabi Alonso’s men took their time to gain a foothold. Long-range efforts from Granit Xhaka were as close as the hosts came to a goal before first-half stoppage time, when Florian Wirtz gorgeously curled into the far corner for what he thought was the leveller.
Unfortunately for the home crowd, the goal was chalked off for an offside against Victor Boniface in the build-up, ensuring Die Schwarzgelben led at the interval.
After the break, Leverkusen continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession, but persistently struggled to test Gregor Kobel in the Dortmund goal. Even when they did break through, Mats Hummels was on hand with a superb last-ditch block to deny Exequiel Palacios.
Xabi Alonso turned to his bench for inspiration, and the recently returned Patrik Schick provided an assist within 60 seconds of being introduced. Odilon Kossounou burst forward from the back, finding Schick in behind who duly squared for strike partner Boniface to steer home the leveller.
A grandstand finish now lay ahead, and Leverkusen were camped in the Dortmund half and piling on the pressure. Boniface unleashed a volley that was well held by Kobel, while Schick headed over as frustration grew around the BayArena.
The Dortmund rearguard was not to be shifted, and Edin Terzić’s men got their reward as they became just the second side to avoid defeat against Leverkusen this season. The Black and Yellows have won just once in their last five league matches, and already trail the league leaders by 10 points.